Whether you're focusing on the deliciously smooth notes or the ever increasingly poetic lyrics, it seems like Bellhead just can't stop levelling up. This is one of those bands that continues to show so much incredible potential to 'blow up' one day and become a regular name upon the lips of the wider alternative culture. With this release, it feels like the lid's about to blow! (Releases July 16th 2021)
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While many artists took time off in 2020 and 2021 to just hope for the best, BELLHEAD continued working at full speed. The critically acclaimed duo of Karen and Ivan are once again releasing new music with their latest EP titled ‘Dead Lights’. In addition, the duo are currently booking dates to support the EP in 2021 and 2022.
The band returned to their trusty production team of audio engineer Neil Strauch (production / technical assistance of Iron and Wine, Counting Crows, Owls, Joan of Arc, Walking Bicycles among many others) mastering engineer Carl Saff (production / technical assistance of Acid Mothers Temple, Smoking Popes, Red Fang, Guided by Voices, etc), and management team David Schock (Wtii records).
The new EP titled ‘Dead Lights’ features five new songs expanding the band's signature sound. While you’ll hear the familiar gritty low bass that BELLHEAD has grown famous for on songs like “Mercy”, you can see a definite growth to the writing and recording styles of this group. The band nods to Type O Negative and Neil Young in “The River”, while the duo’s industrial roots areheard in the noir detective tale of “Nothing as it Seems”. “Frankenstein” is a frenetic journey into the madness of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel with a Alice Cooper / White Zombie flair, and “Dead Letter” resolves the ep with a slow burn erupting to a cathartic resolve
I'm not quite sure how Bellhead surprise me with each new release as much as they do, maybe it's cause I'm an absolute sucker for soft female vocals alongside lightly emotive piano keys; Not to mention the sinister edge to round it all off in the form of Ivan's vocals amongst the aggressive beast that is the genre of rock. I am of course talking about the opening track 'Mercy'. It's not often I say this about a song but I actually LOVE this one.
I'm somewhat reminded of the Mars Volta and other gritty alternative masters of the early 2000's in one mind, and computer game music tracks the likes of which blessed the Sega Megadrive and SNES in the other when listening to 'Nothing As It Seems'. There's a beautiful sense of frustration that plays especially evident when listening to this track which I will mention later in the conclusion section.
'The River' is a much slower and gut churning song than their usual offerings which hints once again at their subtle and therefore quite masterful blending of genres, be that intentional or not.. Am I in an 80's horror movie, an early 2000's emo album, or listening to an epitaph? It's honestly quite a lovely confusion.
'Frankenstein' has a fantastic twist upon a prayer everyone must have heard at some point before they lay themselves down to sleep.. That alone makes it a very enjoyable track but the sense of insanity and House of 1000 corpses style madness really bring a sickeningly awesome twist to the fun to be had from listening.
Finally we have 'Dead Letter' which takes on a slight post rock format, especially as it closes out in a serene fashion. There is also that slight emo hook that I mentioned earlier, made especially clear from a change in to softer vocals for Ivan. It almost brought a tear to my eye when his vocals reminded me of an early 2000's emo(ish) band 'Trophy Scars' who I had almost forgotten about. So thank you Ivan and Karen for such a beautiful track that has ended up meaning a lot to me in the form of uncovered memories!
It's honestly very difficult to pick out any criticisms when it comes to this duo but it is frustrating that they can remind me of a half dozen bands from one track to the next that are always on the tip of my mind but I can never quite grasp and yet, this sure as hell makes for one very entertaining band to listen to.
Once again Bellhead have rung out an incredibly impressive score of tracks that grow in magnitude, depth, and quality each time.
Truly my favourite release from the band yet and an EP that will be going on my Spotify driving playlist for regular rotation, that's for sure!
Technicality: 7/10 Dance factor: 6.5/10 Energy: 7/10 Vocals: 9/10 Re-playability: 9/10
Overall score: 7.7 / 10
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